The annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference was held on March 3-4 in Boston, and four Dartmouth students, Sabin Hart '24, Ari Nathanson '26, Isabel Pantle '23, and Luke Wisniewski '26, had the opportunity to attend. These students are members of the Sports Analytics Club at Dartmouth, which sponsors a research competition every year, the winners of which receive tickets to the MIT conference. Ari's article for the contest is here, and Luke's article can be found here. Sabin and Isabel traveled to the conference as club executive offices, so they did not have to submit papers for the research competition. Devan Fink, the president of the Club, reports that, "Every year since 2018, we've been sending members of the Dartmouth Sports Analytics club to the MIT Sloan Conference, and this year's group of entries to our annual research competition was undoubtedly impressive once again. Going to Sloan has consistently been a highlight for our club, with many club alumni sharing that their trip to the conference ranks among their most memorable experiences while at Dartmouth." Devan will be working as the Coordinator of Baseball Operations for the Baltimore Orioles after graduation.
Dartmouth students have been attending the MIT conference for many years. A number of these students took a course, Sports Analytics, offered in the Program in Quantitative Social Science (QSS). This course has been co-taught by Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon and QSS professor Michael Herron, and a number of course alumni are now working for sports teams.
We asked this year's four conference attendees about their thoughts and experiences at the MIT meeting, and here is what they said.
Ari, a first-year student at Dartmouth, "Attended a series of panels where we heard from notable professionals in the sports world. They discussed the current state of analytics in the industry and new developments (such as neural networks, game theory, and AI) changing the equation. We saw how analytics was reshaping every sport from baseball to chess to even Esports. Notable guests included Michael Lewis, Sue Bird, Shane Battier, Bill James, Brad Stevens, and Nate Silver. The conference was also an opportunity to speak one-on-one with other attendees who were industry professionals. All in all, Sloan was an incredible learning experience."
Isabel, who interned in Summer 2022 with the Baltimore Ravens and who is double majoring in QSS and Mathematics, shared her experience as follows: "The MIT Sloan conference was something I have been hoping to attend for a while now and I'm so grateful to Dartmouth and Dartmouth Sports Analytics for the opportunity to go! Over the two days of the conference, I heard from many amazing pioneers in sports analytics, from people in the industry or working for teams in different sports. Of the various panels and presentations I attended, I was particularly interested in a presentation from three employees of ESPN, in which they explained their process for quantifying wide receiver value by combining three different metrics, each of which represent a different facet of skill at that position. Additionally, there was a presentation by a professor in which he spoke about the use of artificial intelligence in quantifying win probability of a given soccer match, as well as coaching recommendations to increase the likelihood of winning. Lastly, the conference had a women's luncheon, during which we networked and heard from several successful women in the industry. It was an amazing experience and one I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in pursuing sports analytics!" After graduation, Isabel will be starting as a Football Analyst with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Sabin, a QSS major and computer science minor at Dartmouth, stated that the conference "included talks from well-known speakers, tech demos, paper presentations, and networking among sports professionals. Among the highlights were Brad Stevens, President of the Celtics; Bill James, founder of Sabermetrics; and Hikaru Nakamura, number one ranked American chess player. There were more focused talks, like discussing current rule changes in the MLB, and more abstract ones, like discussing data privacy with professionals in other fields, including a Massachusetts congressman. The most interesting demos included a paper using AI to replicate tennis player behavior and a pitch for Microsoft Excel as an Esport with its own league. Between the exciting presentations, I had time to meet with job recruiters and other people who are also interested in the sports analytics industry. It was definitely an unforgettable experience, added onto only by Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball and The Big Short, signing my notebook.
Luke, a first-year student like Ari, reported that, "Our group had the opportunity to listen to panelists from every corner of the sporting world. This included professional chess players, CEOs of professional volleyball and lacrosse leagues, owners of major sports teams such as the Boston Celtics, and the number one Microsoft Excel Esport player in the world. Additionally, I had the opportunity to personally meet Bill James – the famous baseball historian and statistician – and Daryl Morey, the President of Basketball Operations for the Philadelphia 76ers. At the conference, there were also recruiters from renowned sporting organizations, including Caesars Sportsbook and the Kraft Analytics Group. Overall, it was an incredibly formative experience that opened my eyes to countless opportunities in the world of sports. Sports have always been a passion of mine but always felt restricted to something like a hobby. However, this conference allowed me to think of sports instead as a pathway to a career."